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Friday, June 2, 2023

Australia warns koalas ‘endangered’ as numbers plunge

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SYDNEY: Australia officially listed Koala across an area of ​​its east coast is “threatened“on Friday, with marsupials fighting to survive the impact of wildfires, clearing, drought and disease.
Conservationists say Koala Populations have been dropped in much of eastern Australia over the past two decades, warning that they are now sliding toward extinction.
Environment Minister Sussan Ley said she had designated koala populations “endangered” to provide them with a higher level of protection in New South Wales, the Australian Capital Territory and Queensland.
Koalas, a globally recognized symbol of Australia’s unique wildlife, had been listed as “vulnerable” on the east coast just a decade earlier.
“We are taking unprecedented action to protect koalas,” the minister said, highlighting the government’s recent promise of A$50 million (US$36 million) to protect and restore the koalas. restore koala habitat.
Environmentalists welcome the koala’s new status but condemn Australia’s failure to protect the species so far.
WWF-Australia conservation scientist Stuart Blanch said: “Koalas have gone from unlisted to vulnerable within a decade. That’s an amazingly rapid decline.”
“Today’s decision is welcome but it will not stop koalas from sliding to extinction unless it is accompanied by stronger legislation and incentives for landowners to protect their forest homes. .”
Conservationists say it’s difficult to come up with exact figures on koala populations in the affected eastern states.
But estimates by an independent government advisory body, the Science of Threatened Species Commission, indicate that koala populations have fallen from 185,000 in 2001 to just 92,000 in 2021.
‘Losing a national symbol’ – Alexia Wellbelove of the International Humane Society says east coast koalas could become extinct by 2050 if no action is taken. “We can’t afford the clearing any more,” she said.
Australia’s conservation group says its own research shows the federal government has approved the clearing of more than 25,000 hectares of koala habitat since the species was declared vulnerable a year ago. decade.
The organization’s nature campaign manager Basha Stasak said: “Australia’s national environmental laws are so ineffective that they have not done much to stop the ongoing destruction of our habitats. koalas in Queensland and NSW since the species was deemed protected a decade ago.
“The koala’s extinction doesn’t have to happen,” Stasak added.
“We must stop allowing their homes to be bulldozed for mines, new housing, agricultural projects and industrial logging.”
Australia’s koalas had to live on the “blade” even before the devastating “Black Summer” 2019-2020 bushfires because of land destruction, drought, disease, car and dog attacks, Josey Sharrad, Wildlife campaign manager at International said Animal Welfare Fund.
“We should never let things get to the point where we risk losing a national symbol,” said Sharrad.
“The bushfires are the last straw. This should be a wake-up call for Australia and the government to act much faster to protect critical habitat from development and clearance and seriously address the impacts of climate change.”

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